How to win at fundraising

Wonder why it’s easy for some nonprofits to raise money and not so much for others? Here’s what we have learned: sustained successful fundraising requires consistent attention, action, funding and leadership. It is proactive and donor-focused. The success of an organization’s fundraising depends upon the involvement of a cross-section of influencers and their ability and willingness to cultivate and solicit major donors. Success also depends on prerequisites that support the involvement of influencers and donors.

How to win at fundraisingBelow we share a few of these prerequisites, otherwise known as “secrets to winning at fundraising.”  Think on these questions. Talk about them. Share these with your board, staff, volunteers, fellow community members. Consider putting them into an online survey and ask those you know to share their responses.

  1. Do we have full understanding and agreement regarding our mission, vision, goals, strategic direction, and financial position amongst our leadership?
  2. Do we have the full commitment from our board of directors, CEO, executive director, or president, and top fundraising staff?
  3. Do we have an active fundraising leadership team that meets regularly?
  4. Have we allocated – or are we willing to allocate – funds and resources required to implement our fundraising plan?
  5. Have we created a clear, concise, and compelling case for financial support that ties back to the organization’s strategic plan.
  6. Have we completed or scheduled a fundraising assessment and feasibility study or survey to learn how potential donors respond to our goals.
  7. Have we developed a time-phased fundraising plan.
  8. Do we have defined roles and responsibilities for staff, board members, volunteers, and consultants?
  9. Have we hired or contracted with professional staff whose primary role is fundraising management, volunteer training and management, and administrative support?
  10. Does our pool of volunteers include those with top-caliber leadership skills?
  11. Do we have fundraising guidelines, policies, and procedures in place to guide our work?
  12. Have we recruited a team of properly trained and informed volunteers?
  13. Are we using a donor database system to facilitate fundraising management and decision making?
  14. Are we coordinating our solicitation strategies?
  15. Do we have a strong awareness and education program to complement and support fundraising activities?
  16. Do we take the time to thank and recognize our donors and volunteers?
  17. Are we offering our donors and funders meaningful benefits and naming opportunities?
  18. Do we keep the lines of communication open and work with a sense of urgency?

What are your answers? “Yes?”  “No?”  “I don’t know?”  “Not sure?” How do you answer as an individual, and what emerges as the collective response? What are the comments people share, and what do they communicate that you can use to grow and improve your fundraising? Most importantly, make sure your not “too busy” to build consensus, and not too broke to fund your fundraising.

Copyright 2018 – Mel and Pearl Shaw

Mel and Pearl Shaw want you and your organization to be successful with its fundraising. There’s a part for each of us to play. If you want help growing your fundraising, call them at (901) 522-8727 or visit

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